Skip to main content Skip to page footer

2021/2022 - Colourful variety of eurythmy therapy

Every second month we will present eurythmy therapy work from different countries and areas in this diversity section. In this way we would like to bring the abundance of eurythmy therapy into visibility.

In the fifth part we will look into eurythmy therapy in hospitals.

Katherine Beaven: The Raphael Hospital

Before completing my Eurythmy Therapy training in Stroud, UK in 2006, I began to work at the Raphael Medical Centre (later known as the Raphael Hospital RH). I continued to work there part-time for 13 years, at which point it unfortunately changed owners as well as aims and I lost my job. The Raphael Hospital had grown over a period of over 30 years to become a very successful residential hospital with 50 beds specializing in neurological rehabilitation.  Its aim was to offer an integrated and holistic treatment based on the anthroposophical image of the human being. In addition to the core team and medical staff (most of whom were new to this way of thinking), the following specially selected therapeutic interventions were available: anthroposophic medicine, nutritional therapy, music therapy, art therapy, drama therapy, eurythmy therapy, cranio-sacral therapy and external applications, which includes embrocation, oil dispersion baths and rhythmical massage therapy. The RH was privately owned but the majority of the patients were publicly funded.  Most of them and their families knew nothing about the anthroposophic therapies on arrival, but frequently became very appreciative of this dimension during the course of their stay. 

The majority of the patients I treated had acquired brain injuries which were often, though not exclusively, due to having had a stroke. A dissociation from their bodies could generally be perceived in one way or the other.  I found that eurythmy therapy could support the aims of conventional therapies by helping the patient to reconnect with their body, thus increasing mobility, coordination and strength. It also helped to strengthen a patient’s intrinsic motivation to engage in their rehabilitation which is essential for any real progress towards recovery. In addition, it could help to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression by opening a new perceptual space, as well as strengthening the patient's self-confidence and enhancing their self-expression. These factors, described in my master’s thesis on Eurythmy Therapy and Stroke Rehabilitation in 2016, confirmed that eurythmy therapy has a unique potential to meet a stroke patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs as a whole and play an important role in restoring their well-being and sense of self. I found that this was also the case for other patients suffering from the consequences of an acquired brain injury, whether it be due to an accident or a disease. The courageous young man in this video is one such case in point.

Eurythmy therapy in hospitals something special and a wonderful possibility

Eurythmy therapy was developed in the Ita Wegman Clinic in Arlesheim, now the Arlesheim Clinic, from 1921 to 1924 in collaboration with Rudolf Steiner and the active doctors Ita Wegman, Margrete Kirchner-Bockholt and Hilma Walter. Steiner suggested specific exercises for certain patients, who sometimes stayed in the clinic for three months, which were then used and further developed by Margrete Kirchner-Bockholt, among others, who had also completed eurythmy training. In Germany and Switzerland there are clinics where eurythmy therapy is part of the therapy programme. Today, the focus is not only on individual therapy, but increasingly on group therapy for specific symptom areas. A report by Elisabeth Rieger from the Havelhöhe Community Hospital:

"Eurythmy therapy in German clinics today is strongly characterised by prescribed and ever shorter lying-in times for patients, which shortens all therapeutic processes and increasingly leads to group interventions and less individual therapy. Individual therapy is mainly reserved for patients who are lying down. Groups exist for many important symptom areas: Oncology, Lung/Breathing, Pain Syndromes, Depression, Psychosomatic, Withdrawal, Anorexia, Relaxation and soon Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. These groups must be carried out by the eurythmy therapists. Some of them also include a Saturday. For the therapists this means always being flexible, weighing up "my" patients versus substitutes or having a longer working day and developing ideas or concepts on how to deal with this situation in terms of content: Do you do exactly the same exercises in the group as in individual therapy? What is the human situation like? What changes in the reception of the eurythmy movements when people are in a group and also perceive the movements of all the other patients? According to which aspects do I arrange the time? There are groups in which we have experienced that it actually makes sense and works well when a group is together - such as with pain and withdrawal patients. Due to the usually shorter stay of many patients, the focus is on a good introduction and core exercises that the patient can practise himself at home and on the referral to the outpatient colleagues. The constant "struggle" with time is also a process shortening in the therapy and often only "beginnings" can be designed. With longer lengths of stay, such as in the palliative area or in the treatment programmes that provide for a 4-week stay, there is again other leeway. As a core statement about eurythmy therapy in hospitals today, one can certainly say: get to the essential point quickly, establish understanding and trust in the therapy directly by creating a therapeutic situation in which patients feel they are in good hands and understood. We have found that eurythmy therapy is very well received by the patients! (edited)

The fact that eurythmy therapy is part of the standard offer in clinics is something really special! We wish eurythmy therapy an inspiring work there, especially in the groups: In the group, patients also learn from each other and perhaps do not feel so alone in their situation. These group offers are a wonderful prelude to individual therapy in the practice following a stay in hospital.